May 2, 2014
2014 Honda Accord V6 Touring. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush
Of course, the sexier Honda Accord coupe with a stick shift would have been my hands-down first choice, but honestly, with the Accord’s revised styling, even the four-door sedan isn’t that much of a letdown. With its crisp black sheet metal and twin chrome tail pipes, the Accord cuts a pretty handsome figure that’s a long way from the frumpy commuter upon which its success was founded.
Honda’s had 38 years to get the mid-size sedan formula right, and they seem to have got it down pat with this generation Accord.
But in one of the most crowded – and the most cut-throat – segments in the industry, no one, not even the heavyweights can afford to rest on their laurels. While the Toyota Camry has long been the Accord’s nemesis, the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima are also jostling for the top spot – and then there’s the more recent onslaught from the Koreans: Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.
And while cutting-edge technology used to be enough to draw ahead of the pack, it’s now an expected part of any mainstream vehicle, and should not only be extensive but ergonomically friendly as well.
This segment used to be desperately ho-hum, populated mainly by what were clearly commuter appliances. But there’s been a welcome injection of genuine style in this class, most notably from the Mazda6, Nissan Altima and Aston Martin-esque Ford Fusion.
Now in its ninth generation, Honda’s perennial bestseller has been massaged into a much more sculpted and stylish shape, yet it’s still instantly recognizable as an Accord. While it’s still the sedan of choice for the mature and respectable, the new Accord has traded up its frumpiness for a fresher look. A newly wider stance and sharply creased front fascia give it a more aggressive and sporty air, and LED driving lights add a touch of sophistication. If the Accord was a movie star, it would be the Cary Grant or Rock Hudson of the auto world: respectable, a little old-fashioned, yet square-jawed and handsome with an engaging twinkle.
My tester is the top-spec Accord V6 Touring. At this trim level, the cabin features premium soft touch materials, leather upholstery and a full roster of technology.
Although its wheelbase has shrunk by 90 mm compared to its predecessor, interior space has increased. Overall cargo volume increases by 36 litres, while rear passengers gain 33 mm of legroom. The trunk, at 447 litres, is on par with its competitors.
The interior is attractive and sophisticated, although what initially appeared to be “piano black” trim had a weird sparkling sort of metal flake look to it in the right light.
There’s a large 8-inch colour display at the top of the centre stack, under which a secondary screen provides touch sensitive control over all the resident functions, from infotainment to navigation and climate.
2014 Honda Accord V6 Touring badge, cabin, trunk. Click image to enlarge
It’s a fiddly process, as all functions are also accessed via a rotary knob on the centre console and require several screens worth of shuffling to perform even simple functions such as smartphone pairing. I must admit, I’m no whiz when it comes to in-car tech and have only in the past couple of years bothered pairing my phone – since it’s become such a necessary part of a fully comprehensive review. But when my 18-year-old, self-proclaimed “science-nerd” nephew, who’s been writing code since before he hit puberty – spends fifteen minutes shaking his head in puzzlement over the convoluted process of linking his iPhone, well, clearly the connectivity’s interface could use an overhaul.
Cloud-based HondaLink connects the driver to a variety of services – but using their own cell phone data. Thousands of music stations and even audio books can be accessed using steering wheel or voice-activated controls. Unfortunately, this means that Facebook and Twitter are also available. If only they were accompanied by a punishing “zap” to remind drivers that their primary focus should be on actually driving.